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The BEEF Top 40

All of us have mentors, heroes and peers who have made our lives richer or more directed. Similarly, this industry is full of innovators, scientists, leaders and visionaries - individuals who have moved beyond the pack to improve the efficiency of production methods, effect new marketing tools, raise the quality of the beef end product and push forward the boundaries of science. To celebrate this

All of us have mentors, heroes and peers who have made our lives richer or more directed. Similarly, this industry is full of innovators, scientists, leaders and visionaries - individuals who have moved beyond the pack to improve the efficiency of production methods, effect new marketing tools, raise the quality of the beef end product and push forward the boundaries of science.

To celebrate this magazine's 40th anniversary, BEEF editorial staff wanted to recognize some of the folks who have contributed to building today's dynamic and exciting beef industry. The following “BEEF Top 40” listing is populated with individuals all nominated by BEEF magazine readers who meet the above criteria.

We received more than 100 nominations of individuals or teams that readers believed worthy of this recognition. The nominations were forwarded to a panel of three independent judges who collectively compiled a list of those they felt most worthy of the BEEF Top 40 designation.

The bios of these beef industry giants, which are presented in alphabetical order, are not a ranking. And, while BEEF is specifically honoring this group, it does not lessen the contributions of others — both nominated and not nominated — over the years. Countless folks not mentioned here also deserve to be applauded for their hard work and determination to make this beef business successful.

We invite you to celebrate the BEEF 40th anniversary with us as we salute the BEEF Top 40.

Charles Ball

Charles “Charlie” Ball was a trained agricultural engineer and worked as an ag writer for 24 years, but he's best known as the chief architect of the powerful Texas Cattle Feeders Association (TCFA). Ball served for 16 years as TCFA's executive vice president, increasing activities, services and income each year for the association.

Beyond TCFA, Ball was chief author of the Beef Research and Information Act signed into law in 1976 by President Ford. It set up a collections program designed to raise $30-$40 million each year for research and market development. The next year, it failed in referendum but set the stage for the successful national checkoff effort in 1988.

Ball wrote the book, Building the Beef Industry, a Century of Commitment. It's a history of the people, places, politics and issues that shaped the beef industry, and was published by the National Cattlemen's Foundation (NCF) in 1998.

Frank H. Baker

Considered the father of the Beef Improvement Federation (BIF), which he founded in 1967, Frank H. Baker served as secretary of the organization until 1974, and continued to actively support BIF until his death in February 1993.

BIF has served as a means for breeders, researchers, associations and Extension specialists to gather and discuss new research; establish guidelines for evaluating, reporting and utilizing performance data on beef cattle; and honor industry leaders.

Baker had a distinguished career as an animal scientist at five universities, was a leader on many international assignments and served as president of the Council on Agricultural Science and Technology. In 1981, he became director of Winrock International, Morrilton, AR, where his best-known work was with Heifer Project International.

Minnie Lou Bradley

Minnie Lou Bradley of Bradley 3 Angus Ranch, Childress, TX, has always been a trailblazer. She made history the day she became the first woman awarded high individual beef cattle judge at the American Royal in Kansas City and, later, overall high points individual at the International in Chicago.

In the 1960s, Bradley and her husband, Bill, began performance-testing bulls. They were charter members of the Performance Registry International and the Angus Herd Improvement Records Program. Since then, Bradley has built one of the most comprehensive performance-driven programs in the U.S.

She's spent a lifetime working to create profitable bulls for commercial producers and quality end products for consumers.

In 1986, the family pioneered branded-beef and natural-beef marketing programs that are now the nationally known B3R Country Meats.

In 2002, she was honored with the Ladd Hitch Award and the BIF's Pioneer Award. She is currently serving as the vice president of the American Angus Association (AAA) board of directors.

John Brethour

John Brethour has served the beef cattle industry as a scientist at the Kansas State University Agricultural Research Center at Fort Hays since 1957. He's best-known for his work perfecting ultrasound methods.

Brethour also developed computer-processing algorithms to select genetic stock and optimize days on feed for maximum carcass quality. He proved his method worked when, in 1999, he used ultrasound to select and manage six steers that placed first in the Denver Stock Show carcass contest. Then, in 2003, he won the “Best of the Breeds” contest using ultrasound to select the participating cattle.

The potential economic benefits from his ultrasound work are massive. Several studies have found that precision feeding increased feedlot profits $15-$20/head while improving beef quality.

Other areas of his research include ruminant nutrition, feed evaluation, feed storage and processing, new systems design, animal behavior, growth promotion, reproduction and cow-herd management.

Mel Coleman, Sr.

In the late 1970s when cattle markets were slumping and the food industry was demanding low-cost meats, Mel Coleman, Sr., founder of Coleman Natural Meats Co., discovered the potential of natural meats. Customers were willing to pay a premium price for natural products from cattle produced without pesticides, antibiotics or growth hormones.

Coleman worked with USDA to create the first label for meat produced without hormones or antibiotics. In 1981, he sold meat to a natural foods store based in California.

Coleman was one of the first to use ear tag record systems for verifying production protocol, and developed humane production and handling requirements that are now standards for natural meat production. He was also active in establishing the standards for organic beef and winning the adoption of the Organic Foods Production Act in the 1990 Farm Bill. He died in February 2002.

Louis Colvin

In 1978, Louis “Mick” Colvin, Wooster, OH, took the concept of identifying and marketing Angus-type cattle to the creation of the Certified Angus Beef® (CAB) brand. In a time when few people were talking about branding fresh meat, Colvin envisioned the positive impact it could have on the production, sales, marketing and consumption of beef.

CAB's success, under Colvin's leadership, enlightened the industry on the merits of producing, identifying and marketing high-quality beef products.

During his tenure from 1979-1999, a total of 2.5 billion lbs. of CAB products were marketed in more than 30 countries and in the U.S. Licensed packers have paid more than $178 million in grid premiums for cattle meeting the brand's specifications.

Colvin continues to serve as a special advisor for CAB.

Floyd Cook

Known as “the old cowboy,” Floyd Cook has experienced 70 years of changes in the cattle industry. He worked on cattle ranches throughout Washington state, and tells stories of riding herd across open range and carrying six-shooters.

The judges said, “We chose Cook as a worthy representative of all the men and women who work in our industry on ranches, feedyards and stocker operations, and in sale barns, livestock transport companies and packing houses. Without the dedicated effort of these people in the day-to-day operations of our industry, none of the accomplishments of the industry would be possible.”

Cook is now 90 years old and continues to work as a farm hand in Bonneville, WA. He does all the fencing and feeding for a 60-head operation, and helps with branding, castration and dehorning.

Photo of Floyd Cook was unavailable.

Russell Cross

Russell Cross' contributions to the beef industry include some of the most significant food-safety measures adopted in the latter half of the 20th century. Currently the executive vice-president of food safety and government affairs for National Beef, Cross has more than 35 years of experience in the food industry, holding numerous positions in government, academia and the private sector.

In July 1994, as head of Texas A&M University's Center for Food Safety, he organized and led a meat and poultry alliance that applied Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles, a food safety protocol that revolutionized meat processing. Soon thereafter, USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) began requiring HACCP in all domestic meat and poultry processing plants, along with foreign companies exporting meat to the U.S.

Cross was leader of the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center's (MARC) Meat Research Group and served as FSIS administrator from February 1992 to February 1994.

Paul Engler

Paul Engler was among the first individuals to introduce large-scale commercial cattle feeding to the Texas Panhandle. Over the course of his 50 years in business, he successfully built Amarillo, TX-based Cactus Feeders into the largest cattle feeding company in the world — now feeding about 1 million head of cattle each year.

Working with meat packer IBP, Engler pioneered the value-based marketing concept for fed cattle — a precursor to “grid marketing” — a practice that's helped the cattle industry transform consumer value into additional producer profit.

In 1989, the Engler family created the Cactus Employee Stock Ownership Plan, allowing the 500+ Cactus employees to share in the rewards and responsibilities of the growing business.

Employees see themselves as partners with a man who continues to instill a set of “cattle rancher's values” — including the belief that a fair day's work should be rewarded with a fair day's pay.

William D. Farr

William D. Farr, Greeley, CO, is the patriarch of an internationally-known family cattle-feeding enterprise, recognized for many years as one of the most technically advanced in the world.

Born in 1910, Farr pioneered year-round cattle feeding, the feeding of high-moisture corn and many other feeding innovations. As the business grew, Farr acquired ranches and farms, plus land for feedlots.

He served as president of the American National Cattlemen's Association, as chairman of the National Cattlemen's Foundation, and as a director of the National Live Stock and Meat Board. He was also a member of USDA's National Cattle Industry Advisory Committee under three U.S. presidents.

Farr was a founding director of the Colorado Cattle Feeders Association and chaired numerous national committees ranging from cattle feeding and beef grading to tax policy. Commitment and service to the Greeley community and the state of Colorado have been priorities in Farr's life.

Paul Genho

Paul Genho is vice president and general manager of livestock and ranch operations for the King Ranch, Kingsville, TX. Previous to that he served as the general manager of Deseret Cattle and Citrus, St. Cloud, FL.

Genho has been active in cattle and beef affairs for years at both the state and national levels. He's credited with helping to change the beef industry's focus from market share to beef demand, and in the creation of the beef demand index to measure progress through his work with the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA).

He has been involved in several industry groups and has served as an adjunct professor for both Brigham Young University and Texas A&M University-Kingsville. Most recently, he chaired the NCBA Research & Technical Services Group and the Checkoff Division, and served on the Cattlemen's Beef Board Operating Committee.

He also helped in creating the King Ranch Institute for Ranch Management master's program at Texas A&M-Kingsville.

Henry Gardiner

Henry Gardiner has a simple vision for the beef industry — to keep beef the “center of the plate” for consumers by continuing to improve production from pasture to plate.

Gardiner, a third-generation operator of Gardiner Angus Ranch, Ashland, KS, was a visionary in the use of genetic information and technologies in his herd. His breeding system uses artificial insemination, embryo transfer and ultrasound to improve his herd.

After the American Angus Association (AAA) initiated its Sire Evaluation Report in 1974, Gardiner only used progeny-proven Angus sires, elevating his herd to its elite status. His vision and determination helped improve Angus cattle genetics.

Other notable achievements include being the first to adopt a large-scale carcass data collection program. He's a founding member of U.S. Premium Beef, which was started on the belief of producer accountability and rewarding quality. He has also been a leader in AAA and BIF.

Don Good

Don Good has been a key figure for more than 40 years in the advancement of the livestock industry and animal sciences. He is recognized nationwide for his contributions as a teacher, livestock judge, researcher and administrator.

Good began teaching at Kansas State University (KSU) in 1947 and coached the livestock judging team, winning 14 major contests in 18 years. Good is also a respected livestock judge.

He played an important role in the industry's change to the modern beef cattle type when as cattle judge, in 1969, he selected an Angus x Charolais cross steer for grand champion at the International in Chicago. This was a landmark event in the acceptance of crossbreeding.

A strong advocate for matching judging criteria with measurable results, he initiated harvest of top-placing cattle, hogs and sheep in the Kansas National Junior Livestock shows to compare the accuracy of live judging to the carcass cutout.

He became head of the animal science department at KSU in 1966, and held the position until his retirement in 1987.

Temple Grandin

Temple Grandin's groundbreaking work in the areas of cattle care and handling has changed the way producers, feedlots and packers handle their animals. Grandin is a designer of livestock-handling facilities and an associate professor of animal sciences at Colorado State University.

Her facility designs are found throughout North America and around the world, including Australia, New Zealand and parts of Europe. Her designs include a center track restrainer system that is used in meat plants, and curved chutes and race systems.

Grandin's research and writings on animal flight zones and other principles of grazing animal behavior have improved animal care and helped many people reduce animal stress during handling.

Several meat packers and some of the largest retail chains in the world use the objective scoring system she designed to assess the handling of cattle and pigs at the plants to improve animal welfare.

Grandin's other research includes cattle temperament, reducing dark cutters and bruising, bull fertility, training procedures and effective stunning methods of animals in meat plants.

Connie Greig

Connie Greig is a partner in a purebred Simmental and Red Angus ranch in Estherville, IA. Greig operates Little Acorn Ranch with husband John and son Joe, which was honored with the NCBA Environmental Stewardship Award in 1998.

Greig is a long-time volunteer with the National Cattlemen's Association, NCBA, and the Iowa Cattlemen's Association and the Iowa Beef Improvement Association. In the 1990s, she became involved with animal care and handling issues, and was the first cattle producer to receive the Humane Award from the American Veterinary Medical Association.

When bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) was discovered in Europe and the suspected human link was found, Greig, as chairman of NCBA's Cattle Health and Well-Being Committee, was on the front line meeting with cattlemen, government and the public. She even appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show to talk about BSE and beef safety. Her committee took a stance on feeding ruminant-derived proteins to ruminants, and took the initiative in asking for the feed ban.

Long Range Planning Task Force

The Industry Long Range Planning Task Force, appointed in 1993, developed the first beef cattle industry long-range plan. This plan resulted in an industry vision that called for the creation of one organization to serve the industry. This group was the catalyst in the beef industry's ability to reverse two decades of decline in beef demand. Specifically, the plan was designed to:

  • Elevate beef's healthy role in all diets.

  • Emphasize food safety.

  • Add value to beef throughout production, processing and global marketing systems.

  • Provide customers with convenient, consistent and favorable beef products through new product development.

  • Create a business climate that would better assure profitability.

The results were overwhelming. By 1998, the 20-year decline in beef demand leveled. Two years later, the industry marked seven consecutive quarters of growth, making it one of the most dynamic segments of the U.S. agricultural economy.

In 2003, continuing with an updated long-range plan, the beef industry's demand index had increased more than 16% in three years. And despite the announcement of a case of BSE in the U.S. in December 2003, demand growth has continued into 2004.

The members of the 1993 Long Range Planning Task Force were: chairman Rob Adams, Chicago, IL; Tobin Armstrong, Armstrong, TX; Ralph “Buck” Bell Jr., Summerton, SC; Linda Davis, Cimarron, NM; Bill Engelbrecht, Henry, IL; Robert Foster, Middlebury, VT; Joe Hampton, Windsor, IL; Mardie Hanson, Cowdrey, CO; Burke Healey, Davis, OK; Virgil Huseman, Ellsworth, KS; Jack Maddux, Wauneta, NE; James A. Mullins, Corwith, IA; Roger Stuber, Bowman, ND; Gorden Van Vleck, Plymouth, CA; facilitator Rich Shuler, West Des Moines, IA; and project leader Earl B. Peterson, Englewood, CO.

Steve Hunt

Steve Hunt, CEO of U.S. Premium Beef (USPB), Kansas City, MO, was the leading influence in creating the only producer-owned beef marketing company in the U.S. The philosophy behind USPB, which was started in 1997, is to reward producers for producing better beef products by providing economic incentives to its members.

The concept for USPB was created during a period of strife in the industry. The beef industry had been in a rut with a “one price fits all” average pricing system. The catalyst for the value-based marketing system was the loss of market share to other proteins. Hunt created and facilitated the marketing system that actually turned the trend around and helped the beef industry regain market share.

Through Hunt's vision, work and financial management, USPB has grown from owning a small part of a national packing plant to owning the majority of National Beef Packing, the fourth-largest U.S. packer. In addition, USPB has returned more than $125 million in premiums and dividends to producer/members.

Fred Johnson

Fred Johnson, Summitcrest Farms, Summitville, OH, has been involved in advancing cattle breeding and marketing for 68 years. Johnson purchased his first farm in 1936 and bought his first Angus cattle in 1949. Since then, Summitcrest has expanded to three farms in Ohio, Nebraska and Iowa, totaling 17,000 acres, 1,500 Angus cows and 1,200 commercial animals.

Summitcrest genetics have spread over several countries, including Canada, Australia, South America, Scotland, South Africa and New Zealand.

Johnson is an advocate of performance testing and consumer-based production. Summitcrest offers the largest private database of sire/dam-identified carcass data in the world, which is open to buyers of their genetics.

Johnson has served in high positions on a number of industry organizations, including the first Beef Promotion and Research Board, which oversees the beef checkoff. He also was among the visionaries who helped conceive the CAB Program, and was the first chairman of its board from 1978-84.

Robert Josserand

Robert Josserand began in the cattle feeding business while working at a bank in Julesburg, CO. He moved to Garden City, KS, to work as general manager of Haskell Land Co., overseeing the development of three feedyards. While there, he helped establish the Kansas Cattle Feeders Council, which is now part of the Kansas Livestock Association.

Josserand became president of ProChemco, Amarillo, TX, in 1973. ProChemco, which had extensive cattle operations in six states, merged with AZL in 1979, and Josserand and partners purchased the AZL Cattle Co. in 1981. The new company, AzTx Cattle Co., was moved to Hereford, TX.

Josserand serves as president of AzTx, which operates five feedyards in Texas and New Mexico. With a one-time capacity of 232,000 head, AzTx is the seventh-largest feedyard in the U.S.

He has served several organizations, including NCBA, the National Live Stock and Meat Board, TCFA, the Cattlemen's Beef Board, and the International Livestock Congress.

John Lacey

John Lacey graduated from college with a bachelor's degree in animal science, and returned from duty with the U.S. Marine Corps to become a ranching partner with his father. Lacey, of Paso Robles, CA, is now operator of several cow-calf, yearling and cattle-feeding enterprises. He is a past president of the California Cattlemen's Association and the only person to serve as president of both NCA and NCBA.

Lacey's leadership, insight and credibility among grass-roots producers became key to the successful merger of the NCA and National Livestock and Meat Board/Beef Industry Council into the NCBA, which officially began operation Feb. 1, 1996. He also served as a Meat Board director and a representative of the Federation of State Beef Councils on the Beef Promotion Operating Committee. Lacey is also a pioneer in beef merchandising, helping Harris Ranch Beef design its branded-beef program.

James H. Leachman

James H. Leachman has been on the forefront of beef cattle seedstock development and merchandising for nearly 40 years. Once the third-largest U.S. registrar of purebred cattle, his Billings, MT, operation claimed the world's largest “one-iron” bull sale for several years under the name of Leachman Cattle Co.

Leachman used his knowledge of livestock genetics in applying his trademarked Optimum Mainstream Crossbreeding system. He developed several cattle crossbred and composite strains of cattle that are still in use today. He established breeding plans for some of the largest ranches in the U.S., while developing cooperating breeder bases in South America and Australia.

Leachman was added to the BIF Seedstock Producer Honor Roll of Excellence in 1981, and received BIF's Pioneer Award in 1997. Leachman has been a tireless champion of the value of crossbreeding in the cattle industry, and once called heterosis the “oil that drives the cattle business, and the cattleman's only free lunch.”

U.S. Meat Animal Research Team

The U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (MARC) team of researchers Larry Cundiff, Keith Gregory and Robert Koch have significantly improved the production efficiency and carcass merit of beef cattle worldwide.

Gregory is an animal breeding and genetics scientist, and a research administrator for the Agricultural Research Service (ARS). He served as the first director of MARC from 1966-1977.

Cundiff joined ARS in 1967 as a research geneticist. From 1976 to the present, he's served as research leader of MARC's Genetics and Breeding Research Unit.

In 1950, Koch joined the University of Nebraska's Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, located in Clay Center. He retired in 1991, but continues to pursue analysis of data at MARC.

In the late 1950s, Koch and Gregory re-oriented beef cattle research at the Fort Robinson Beef Cattle Research Station, and developed two long-term projects. The first was to evaluate response to selection for growth to weaning or yearling ages in Herefords using closed, inbred lines. The second evaluated effects of heterosis on major economic traits, and systems of utilizing heterosis with Hereford, Angus and Shorthorn breeds.

The development of MARC was initiated by Gregory, and Cundiff joined the group shortly after in 1967.

The selection experiment was completed in 1985, after 25 years and five generations of cattle. The trio found that major bioeconomic traits respond to selection, but unfavorable genetic correlations exist and should be considered when maximizing the rate of genetic improvement for net merit.

The long-term crossbreeding project involved four generations of Hereford, Angus and Shorthorn cattle. Rotational systems of crossbreeding maintained high levels of heterosis from one generation to the next. The results of this project had a significant impact on the adoption of crossbreeding systems to derive the benefits of heterosis.

The team has contributed to several more projects, including genetic variations within and between herds, managing genetic defects in cattle, and developing composite breeds of cattle using multi-breed crosses.

Jan Lyons

Jan Lyons, Manhattan, KS, is described as one of the industry's most committed, vigilant and effective volunteer leaders. The current NCBA president, Lyons is only the second woman to fill the role.

She's been described as “velvet over steel” while faceing such challenging issues as animal ID, BSE, and court fights over the beef checkoff's constitutionality.

Other volunteer assignments include serving on the Cattlemen's Beef Board (CBB), where she helped with the 1996 merger of NCA and the Beef Industry Council of the Meat Board to form NCBA.

Following her CBB appointment, Lyons chaired NCBA's Consumer Marketing Group, leading the effort to outline an initiative to enhance the value of under-utilized beef cuts. This initiative has served as a catalyst for new product development, and enhanced the value of beef carcasses.

James McGrann

James McGrann, until his retirement this spring, worked for the Texas Cooperative Extension Service for 25 years. Called “the godfather of SPA” by many in the industry, he was a leader in developing the Standardized Performance Analysis (SPA) program. SPA helps ranch managers analyze production and financial data by comparing it to benchmark data in a national database.

McGrann has worked directly with managers in 10 states, including a number of the nation's largest ranches, consulting in finance, development of management information and SPA systems. He's also been a great mentor to many cattlemen and an educator to hundreds of students, conducting SPA workshops for ranchers in several U.S. states and Venezuela, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Australia.

Ken Monfort

Ken Monfort, the beef industry innovator who pioneered the concept of boxed beef, passed away in 2001. The former CEO of Monfort of Colorado succeeded his father Warren in 1970, and developed the business into a Fortune 500 company.

Monfort's first experience in the industry dates back to the 1941 National Western Stock Show when, as a 12-year-old, 4-H member from Greeley, he showed the grand champion steer.

Because of his innovative practice of “breaking down” beef carcasses into primal cuts, supermarkets no longer had to hire skilled meat cutters. Grocers also no longer had to worry about merchandizing the entire carcass.

Monfort grew the family's cattle-feeding business from a single feedlot north of Greeley into one of the largest integrated beef operations in the red-meat industry. His innovations in quality assurance and environmental protection earned Monfort Inc. praise from consumer and beef industry groups alike.

J. David Nichols

J. David Nichols is the managing partner of Nichols Farms, Bridgewater, IA, a family-owned seedstock production operation. Nichols has contributed to seedstock development and source-verified feeder calf sales. To add value to his customers' investments, Nichols' marketing services include Nichols Genetic Source Verified Auctions, Nichols Genetic Source Bred Heifers, and Nichols Alliance Feedlots. He also owns shares in the Iowa Quality Beef packing plant.

Nichols Farms was the first seedstock operation to incorporate franchising into its marketing structure when Nichols sold its first franchise to a family in North Carolina. The Nichols' franchise now extends its genetic inputs and value-added programs to four states, with more planned.

His interests internationally have led to exporting semen, embryos and cattle to more than 30 countries.

Nichols has also participated in beef research projects with the University of Missouri, University of Georgia, Virginia Tech, Cornell University and Kansas State University. Nichols also participated in Iowa State University's original ultrasound research in 1987.

John Pollak, Dick Quaas

John Pollak and Dick Quaas, Cornell University beef cattle geneticists, have spent the last 26 years collaborating on developing and applying new statistical techniques for evaluating genetic merit of beef cattle using field data. Their work was integral to the expected progeny differences (EPD) revolution of the 1980s and '90s.

For many years, they have worked closely with the American Simmental Association on research and EPD calculations. Currently, they're working on a multiple-breed evaluation which includes association data on Simmental (American and Canadian), Simbrah, Maine-Anjou and Chianina, plus a variety of composites and individual herds.

Pollak was instrumental in the Carcass Merit Project, sponsored jointly by breed associations and NCBA. He was the driving force behind the establishment of the National Beef Cattle Evaluation Consortium (NBCEC) and currently serves as the group's director.

Quaas chairs the NBCEC committee charged with validating commercial DNA tests and incorporating genomic information into national cattle evaluation.

The duo received the World Simmental Federation Golden Book Award in 2002. They also are active in BIF, giving presentations at numerous annual meetings and Genetic Prediction Workshops.

In 1999, they jointly received the BIF Pioneer Award. The inscription on the award said: “There have been few advances in applied beef cattle genetic prediction in the last 20 years that have not been influenced by the work of Pollak and Quaas.”

Robert Peterson

Robert Peterson led IBP, Inc. for more than 20 years as CEO and chairman. He oversaw the company's ascendancy to become the nation's largest meat and beef packer.

Peterson was a controversial executive with a reputation for toughness and thoroughness. He began with IBP in 1961 as a cattle buyer and rose through the ranks to become president and chief operating officer in 1977. He took over the reins of CEO in 1980, and chairman in 1981 — positions he held until Tyson bought IBP in September 2001.

During his tenure, Peterson increased IBP's employment from 9,500 to 52,000 people. Sales grew from $4.6 billion annually to more than $16.9 billion. He moved IBP into the value-added and branded beef era with the Thomas E. Wilson brand of consumer-ready products in 2000.

After retiring as IBP chairman, Peterson remained on Tyson's board of directors until November 2003. He died at age 71 on May 5, 2004.

Robert N. Rebholtz

Robert N. Rebholtz turned his dream of owning a livestock business into one of the country's most successful stories of entrepreneurship. Following his death in 1997, the founder of Agri Beef Co. left a Boise, ID-based ranching, cattle feeding and integrated agri-business legacy that his family continues to carry on.

Agri Beef is a diversified, natural resource-based firm operating in 18 states with hundreds of employees. Associated divisions also include animal feed manufacturing, veterinary supplies and meatpacking.

Rebholtz's vision fostered expansion of cattle feeding in the Northwest, which was the driving force behind IBP's entry into the region.

His legacy includes significant contributions to the beef industry. In 1973, he was among those who spearheaded the idea of a national beef checkoff. He later served as Meat Board chairman.

Rebholtz is still widely recognized as a man whose “exemplary and inspirational” personal values transcended into every aspect of his businesses.

Harlan Ritchie

Described as a visionary, Harlan Ritchie, retired Michigan State University distinguished professor of animal science, is a well-respected leader in the beef cattle industry.

He's best known for his work in beef cattle improvement programs, efficiency of beef production, beef cattle dystocia, retained ownership and enhanced carcass quality. He also worked in advancing the idea that creating a delicious beef product with the least resource input and most derived product was the mission of beef production.

With his ability to be a “futurist,” he continues to provide thought-provoking ideas to beef industry. He's a popular teacher, respected researcher and prolific writer.

Ritchie has participated in animal science programs in 34 states and several countries. His work has won numerous awards, and his commitment to remain current in all aspects of beef cattle production has earned him industry-wide respect.

Jo Ann Smith

Jo Ann Smith, a cattle producer from Marion County, FL, is known for a multitude of beef-industry contributions. NCA's first female president in 1985, Smith was active in the area of beef promotion and in all three efforts at a national beef checkoff program.

Her long-term efforts paid off in 1985 when, as NCA president, she led the third and successful push for a national beef checkoff program. Smith served as the first chairman of the Cattlemen's Beef Promotion and Research Board in 1986 and oversaw a $75 million annual budget for advertising, research and promotion.

Tough, warm and engaging, Smith also served as USDA assistant secretary of agriculture in charge of marketing and inspections. She was one of the first to explore Japanese markets for quality U.S. beef exports.

She currently sits on the board of directors for IBP/Tyson, and has helped lobby in Washington, D.C., against country-of-origin labeling regulations.

Gary Smith

Gary Smith has occupied the Monfort Endowed Chair in Meat Science at Colorado State University since June 1990. The Oklahoma native with a PhD from Texas A&M University is a world-recognized leader in livestock agriculture.

Smith's work in the composition, quality, safety, packaging and retailing of red meat has earned Smith scores of awards. They include the Distinguished Research Award and the Distinguished Teaching Award from both the American Society of Animal Science and the American Meat Science Association.

Smith has authored more than 1,000 articles in scientific journals, conference proceedings, technical reports and industry magazines. He was chair of the National Academy of Sciences committee that wrote “Irradiation of Meat and Meat Products” and a member of the committee that wrote “Designing Foods.”

When beef producers have questions about food safety, domestic and international merchandising and the public's impression of the beef industry, nowhere will they find more credible, straightforward answers than from Smith.

Richard Spader

Richard “Dick” Spader, former American Angus Association (AAA) executive vice president, led AAA in his 32-year career to be the largest and most influential breed registry in the world.

Spader began his AAA career in 1969 as the assistant director of public relations, and became director of the performance programs department in 1976. Under his direction, AAA issued its first “Field Data Sire Evaluation Report” and “Pathfinder Report.”

In 1981, Spader was named executive vice president, and served in that capacity until his death in October 2001. Several programs were established during his tenure, including the Commercial Relations Department and the Angus Information Management Software (AIMS) program.

From 1986 to 2001, Angus cattle registrations increased from 133,000 to more than 271,000, and the performance records database increased from 179,000 to 693,000 weights processed annually.

Lloyd Tate

Lloyd Tate, Grapevine, TX, devoted most of his career to the development of animal ID technology, and is known in the industry as the “pioneer of animal ID.” He worked for two major manufacturers of animal ID products — Temple Tag, Temple, TX; and Allflex USA, Dallas, TX.

Tate was responsible for many key developments in feedlot tags, permanent ID tags and electronic ID (EID) technology. He was an innovator in understanding how to embed the electronic transponder into plastics. He also developed many of the readers that are in operation at feedlots and packing plants.

Tate passed away June 20, 2004, leaving the industry with the foundation and technology to build a solid animal ID system. To continue to honor his service and contributions to the beef industry, Allflex developed the Lloyd Tate Award for Innovation.

Topper Thorpe

Topper Thorpe had a 32-year tenure with Cattle-Fax, the nation's premiere market information, analysis, research and educational service, which is owned and directed by cattle producers and feeders.

Thorpe earned bachelor's and master's degrees in agricultural business in 1964 and 1968, respectively, from New Mexico State University. After serving in the military, he became a market analyst for Cattle-Fax upon the firm's establishment in 1968.

Thorpe not only made a major contribution to Cattle-Fax and to NCBA, he's significantly impacted the cattle business in general, helping thousands of Cattle-Fax members with timely market forecasts for use in marketing, risk management and planning. Few match his dedication and industry insight.

He also served as executive vice president of CF Resources Inc., a subsidiary of Cattle-Fax that provides seminars, training, consulting, surveys and special research projects for the livestock industry.

James Wiltbank

James Wiltbank, who passed away in December 1995, was a researcher in animal science and applied reproductive sciences.

Wiltbank worked for the University of Nebraska and USDA in Fort Robinson; and at Colorado State University (CSU), Texas A&M and Brigham Young universities. In his research on reproductive management, Wiltbank refined management of calving practices, AI, estrous synchronization and nutritional management for improved reproduction of beef cattle.

During his time working in Fort Robinson, Wiltbank studied the age and weight at which heifers in different breeds reached puberty. He also studied the nutrient requirements of cows during pregnancy and prior to breeding, relating the nutrition level and body condition score of the cow to her return to estrus and conception.

While at CSU, he developed a method for synchronizing estrus in beef heifers using an ear implant. The technology was used to create the Syncro-Mate-B treatment.

Wiltbank was also a well-known educator, committed to teaching his students to think and learn to solve problems.

Robert Totusek

Robert Totusek is described as a rare combination of scientist, teacher and practical cattleman. His 38-year tenure at Oklahoma State University (OSU) was marked by industry-changing innovation.

As a livestock judge, he recognized the need to move away from fatter, slow-growing cattle. He recognized the need to identify moderate-type cattle, and facilitated a National Steer Symposium at OSU, and later, a National Cattle Beef Symposium. All were credited for establishing guidelines to moderate show-ring extremes.

Totusek believed it was important to emphasize profitability when presenting new research, as not every practice that increased production increased profits. He created a technique to evaluate every practice developed by research with a cost-return analysis.

In 1976, he was named head of OSU's animal science department. In the years following, he added 30 faculty positions; built a new animal science building, arena, beef cattle research center and horse facilities; increased graduate and undergraduate enrollment; doubled research funding; and created four endowed scholarships that bear his name.

David E. Wood

David E. Wood moved his personal beef enterprises — along with Harris Ranch Beef — into an era of innovative branded-beef processing. The California cattleman continues to use his leadership skills to break down international trade barriers and develop new beef products. In 1996, Harris Ranch was the eighth-largest beef exporter to Japan.

With Wood's vision, Harris Feeding Co. launched a value-based beef production and marketing program called “Partnership for Quality.” It was aimed at cow-calf producers desiring to improve genetic standards in their herds.

The program also offers producers vaccination, weaning, seasonality and quality-based carcass premiums. Wood was also the first meat packer to initiate mandatory feeding of vitamin E, and negotiated with retailers to pay for the value-added practice.

As chairman of the Cattlemen's Beef Board, Wood preserved the integrity of the beef checkoff while helping build an organization that could speak with one voice and set as its goal to increase beef demand.

Leonard Wulf

Leonard Wulf, founder of Wulf Limousins, Morris, MN, started his cattle operation in 1949 with $200 in his pocket. Through hard work, innovation and customer service, he built one of the largest and most successful seedstock operations in the U.S. before his death in July 2003.

In 1968, several “exotic” breeds were imported from Europe; among them was Limousin. Most of the new breeds failed, but the lean, heavily muscled Limousins impressed Wulf. In 1970, he began mating cows by AI to two bulls imported from France to Canada. Wulf believed AI has been key to herd improvement.

The Wulf farm developed a 30-point rating system, combining visual appraisal, performance data and pedigree information for breeding stock selection. And, he is credited with a lead role in helping make the Limousin breed one of the top five in the U.S.

As of 2002, Wulf cattle accounted for 21% of the top 10 trait-leading sires across all traits evaluated by the North American Limousin genetic evaluation.

Roy Wallace

Roy Wallace, vice president of beef programs for Select Sires, has spent his life in pursuit of producing better beef cattle through improved genetics. A fierce proponent of performance testing, Wallace has served as an advisor for several breed associations in the area of sire evaluation.

A strong supporter of national sire summaries and an early adopter of structured sire evaluations, Wallace was involved with the selection of bulls with genetics for lighter birth weights, which has allowed breeders to use proven calving-ease bulls on virgin heifers. He's also worked to find better ways to breed beef cows through AI to genetically superior bulls.

Other aspects of his work include feeding progesterone to cows, a technique that evolved into the MGA programs used today.

Widely recognizable with his leather jacket and a cigar clenched between his teeth, the affable Wallace has worked with researchers at several universities to develop effective AI synchronization programs including Select-Synch, MGA-Select and CIDR-Select.